Windows of Opportunity

Image“The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. They are the foundation that shapes children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life in general.(http://www.factsforlifeglobal.org/03/)

“Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life. They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow.”  (http://www.factsforlifeglobal.org/03/)

After reading those quotes I think it goes without saying that the first 5 years of your child’s life provide the most open, moldable moments you will ever have with them.  It’s in these first 5 years that they learn the most about life; how it works, how to react to it, how to recover in it.

This is why parents play such a crucial role in their child’s life, especially during those early years.  They are learning from you.  How the world works for you, how you react to things life throws at you, and how you recover…or don’t recover when life throws you something unexpected.

And while they discover things for themselves, watching you and hearing you will put a specific perspective on what they see and how they see it.  We’ve all witnessed it.  A child who is praised for their discoveries, encouraged to discover things on their own, praised for who they are as a person on the inside, grows with confidence.  When things go wrong they pick up and try again.  They’ve seen you do it.

A child who is verbally trashed on, told they’re not good enough and told they can’t do anything right, will carry that with them for the rest of their lives.  There’s always that nagging lie that they just can’t escape no matter how much praise they get as an adult.  When things go wrong this child says “they” were right…I can’t do it.  They’ve seen you give up…on them and probably on yourself.

What you do and say as a parent makes a HUGE difference straight from birth.

I want to take this to another level though.  Did you ever stop to think that during those first 5 years it’s not just your view of the world and how it works that they are learning.  They are watching your view of God, and who he is.  They are soaking up who God is in your life.  Is He your strength, an Ever Present Help?  Or is He someone you only talk about on Sundays.  Is He your victory, that no matter what comes your way, you know He is there?  What about during the times when you don’t “feel” Him?  Is He still someone you know you can stand on, depend on, trust in?

You have these few, fleeting impressionable moments.  What they see is what they will take with them.  When they struggle, they won’t go back to what they learned in college.  They will go back to what they learned as a child.

I strongly believe the moments my parents took with me as a child affect who I am today and how I react to what life hands me.  My parents showered me with who God is.  I knew from an early age that God was someone I could trust and rely on.  I knew from an early age that even when I felt that God wasn’t there, He was.  That’s what faith is.  Believing in someone who I may not see working all the time.  But I believe He IS working all things together for my good, a child who loves Him.  And someday I will see that good.

But my parents didn’t just tell me who God is.  They showed me who God is by demonstrating it with their own lives.  When life was good, I saw them give praise to God.  When life went wrong, I saw them give praise to God.  Sure, I saw the struggle, but I also saw the dependence on Him.

O is now 2 years old.  He’s discovering his world.  He’s watching me to see how it works, how I react and how I recover.  I have these 5 short years (now 3 short years!), where what I say and do will give him the most information about life.  When he’s 30 years old he will remember what he learned in these years.  Gosh, that’s scary!

I want Him to learn the same things I learned.  That when life is good, we give God praise.  When life goes wrong, we give God praise.  We can depend on Him, we can trust Him, even when it feels like He’s not working, because in faith we know He is.  I want O to see my life lived in victory, because he who the Son sets free is free indeed!

Don’t miss these moments.

If you have, all is not loss.  That window of opportunity may be closed but our God is God of miracles.  Don’t give up!

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